Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Book of Names, Part I




I wanted to be a color-namer.

I mean, it's all in the packaging, isn't it?
Who wants to paint "off-white" walls when they could paint "frothy cappuccino" ?
When you're looking for the right crayon, doesn't
"moldy hay" speak to you more than "yellow"?


I started a notebook of names when I was fifteen.


It's scribbled with

gushy names I liked as an adolescent

and progressed to

names in various languages,

pages of name meanings

and

words to remember
(garish, torrent, celerity, behoove, hoopla, congeal).


I still use it.
When struck with a great color name, I jot it down in the Book of Names.
When on a name hunt for characters, I crack open the Book of Names.
And when a new storkling is on the way,
I frantically circle and cross out and make notes and panic over choosing the perfect name. Thankfully there are nine months in that process.
I'm horribly relieved I didn't have a child at fifteen when I was convinced "Opal Starlet" was the most fantastically romantic name ever (multiple underlinings and several exclamation points here).

How do you name your characters?

And since we haven't played word games for awhile,
why don't we throw out some
original color names?


My favorite color names today: Yellow teeth. Slaughterhouse. Rusty nail. Gangrene.



11 comments:

Jen said...

Oh my gosh what a great post! I love the name of crayons they make me giggle!!

How cool of your teenage self to be super smart to start a notebook! Opal Starlet, what's wrong with that name?? Haha!

jesse joshua watson said...

Hunny Comfort?

Hey, nice photos, Faithy! Your camera rocks.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

You made me laugh out loud! I love your color names. How about Pepto-Bismo for pink? That's pretty obvious. :)

Jan Morrison said...

oh a post after my own heart. A few years ago I wrote a piece for the Globe & Mail's facts and arguments page. It was about Crayola trying to kill certain colours because their time was done. The colour I was fighting for is 'burnt siena' one of my favourites. I argued that even if kids didn't know that it referred to the earth around Sienna, Italy, that such names got in their hearts just like images of old masters get in their hearts. I too am a namer! I could spend hours naming businesses and do in my novels. And kittens and chickens and babies and colours. Here are a couple from today -
for a bright pink - the heart of prom girl
for a grey beige - slight indifference
for a soft grey - fog city blues
turquoise - it already has the best name!
off-white - wet cotton skirt

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I would rather not have a colour called gangrene, but yes, half the magic of colours is in their names.
I am so glad my kids say peach instead of pink, and mauve instead of purple, even if both are slightly inaccurate.

My (then) five year old dubbed a cloudy day "swine flu"- I think that is the best colour name ever. But then I am biased.

And Jan, when I was a kid, I had a colour box which had red, blue, yellow, and all the other standard colours, except brown. It had burnt sienna. I have never forgotten that one colour, because when you have 11 boring colours, and one burnt sienna, you never can forget it.

Incidentally, the car I drive is called a Sienna!

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Great post, Faith. I seem to remember one of the colors in your book as "Sani-can green".

When I was a lad, my folks gave me a box of pastels and the color that puzzled and intrigued me the most was "caput mortem". Frankly, it scared me.
I just looked it up and discovered that it means, "dead head" or "worthless remains". And get this: in the 16th and 17th centuries they made the color from ground up mummies!! I'm not making this up. Uigh.

Rayna, "swine flu" is a brilliant capture of a grey cloudy sky--Ha!

MollyMom103 said...

These are some colors:
bluebonnet, spanish moss, pickle, compost, beach tar, doodle bug, minnow...

How do I name my characters? I love to collect real names. Recently Culwell, Cully for short, came to me. Cully was the lawyer at my house closing.

I also look at the census lists for various years. I like names in the 60 to 80th most popular range.

I also like to stroll through old graveyards. I get lots of names there.

Faith Pray said...

Molly, what great ideas for name collecting! I love "minnow" and "compost". Nice.

RJW, I am fascinated by "caput mortem"! I wonder if they put that one in the color box as a kind of Rorschach test for artists. I don't know if the 16th century color-makers were resourceful recyclers or completely off their rockers. Yow.

Rayna, "swine flu" is definitely a unique one. Your five year-old has a great imagination!

Faith Pray said...

Jan, I knew you'd come up with some great selections!

Kathi, "pepto-bismo" would probably be on the top of my girls' color list! Nice!

Jesse, I have nothing to say. I was ten and more romantically-gushious than Anne of Green Gables herself.

Jen, it may have been smart, but you should see all the things I wrote in my notebooks at that age. Ach!

Sharon Clark said...

Great post Faith.
I have to add, Don had a truck that was "slug green" and a jacket of the same colour!!

Slug green is the latest colour. It was not then....

Erin Lucas said...

puckered lips, fuzzy blanket, tar face, pickled onion.

I don't think I can beat "gangrene" though. That's the best! This has got to be my favorite Faith party game of all time!

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